NTT builds municipal private wireless network for City of Las Vegas

NTT Ltd. today said it is building a private wireless network for the City of Las Vegas, Nevada. The new 5G network will be the most extensive private wireless network in the U.S., so far, according to NTT.

The announcement today was timed to coincide with the MWC Americas event this week in Las Vegas.

NTT is a conglomerate headquartered in Tokyo, but its IT infrastructure and services arm — NTT Ltd. — has headquarters in London and New York City.

The City of Las Vegas intends for the network to serve as an open platform available to local businesses, government and educational institutions.

Shahid Ahmed, Group EVP of New Ventures and Innovation at NTT Ltd., said the network is currently in the testing stages and will be launched “in the next few weeks.” He specified that it’s not a direct-to-consumer service. The network is being tested with various organizations for different use cases such as remote learning and smart-city applications such as traffic-monitoring cameras.

Unlike many Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) deployments, which are in-building or industrial, this network extends across public spaces. It’s also the first network of its size to be open to third-party APs and end-user devices.

The private wireless network will cover the whole city. “It’s the largest CBRS network at least when we last counted the number of access points deployed,” said Ahmed. Although he wouldn’t specify how many access points there are, he said it’s hundreds.

NTT isn’t naming most of its partners, however it has said it’s working with Celona, which is providing, at a minimum, its software-defined operational model.

The network will run on General Authorized Access (GAA) CBRS spectrum. NTT is not naming the spectrum access administrator (SAS) that it’s working with. Ahmed said, “We have partnerships with several of them. They’re a utility to us.”

Devices that are compatible with the network will include a SIM, which will allow them to roam to macro networks if the user goes out of coverage from the private network. “We have an MVNO called Transatel that allows for that interoperability between the macro and micro network,” said Ahmed.

Las Vegas began partnering with NTT in 2018 on smart city efforts to improve safety and traffic congestion.

Las Vegas isn’t the first city to build a municipal private wireless network. The City of Tucson, Arizona, built one during the height of the pandemic because it realized children in low-income areas did not have access to high-speed broadband to do their homework.